Maybe it's cliché of me to say this, but one of the most liberating, positive experiences I've ever had was when I saved up enough money to travel to Europe on my own after college. It became apparent to me why solo travel is a big part of so many cultural narratives, as it's a true path to self-discovery and, furthermore, a way to understand how to be a citizen of the world at large. If such an adventure sounds appealing to you, listen up: Ampersand Travel recently launched the Wander Women Index, revealing the best destinations for solo travelers — specifically, female solo travelers.
As Ampersand Travel's research outlined, a 2016 report from The George Washington University School of Business found that about two-thirds of travelers these days are women. What's more, according to the Wander Women Index, Google searches in 2017 for the phrase “solo female travel” hit a record high, at 100 million total searches. I don't know about you, but I think that's freaking rad.
So where are the best places to travel as a solo chick on the move? As per the Wander Women Index, Ampersand Travel took a wide variety of factors into account as it compiled its list of ideal solo destinations. The index accounted for things like safety, women's rights, culture, food, and, yes, even "Instagrammability." When all of these things were added up and evened out, the top five solo travel spots belonged to Japan, France, Spain, the United States, and Indonesia.
Japan got top billing, for example, because it's a country where crime is relatively low, and natural beauty and culture are abundant. That being said, the Wander Women Index includes so many more amazing recommendations for solo travel, so be sure to take a look as you plan for any upcoming OOO time.
But what exactly is it, on a personal level, that makes solo travel such a life-changing experience? Well, according to Jenny Lachs, a long-term traveler and founder of the online travel community Digital Nomad Girls, it's all about the change you feel within. When it comes to traveling alone, Lachs tells me she believes "it's one of the most transformative experiences any woman can have, no matter her age."
In her own experience, she tells Elite Daily in an email, when she began traveling alone, being totally reliant on herself gave her an enormous amount of self-confidence and really opened her mind.
"The most important lesson for me as a solo traveler was that the world is a very friendly place, and people care about you, especially if you're a woman traveling by yourself," Lachs says. "I also realized that, just because I'm traveling by myself, it doesn't mean I am alone. On the contrary, it is very easy to make friends on the road — easier than at home."
As for the psychological benefits of solo travel, they, too, can be pretty profound. Counselor and relationship expert David Bennett echoes a lot of what Lachs has to say: Traveling on your own can improve your confidence, he explains, as well as your self-esteem, and your overall ability to handle yourself in a huge variety of circumstances.
"Traveling solo [means] creating your own experiences without relying on others," Bennett tells Elite Daily in an email. "And by meeting new people and experiencing new places, you're really creating novel and unique experiences, which can make your brain healthier and happier."
I'm just about ready to pack my suitcase, guys. How about you?